Some things 1st time cruisers are sometimes unaware of...
1. Online registration, all the lines now have the ability to register online from their website. This is a very important step and you'll wnat to be sure you register, it will save you a great deal of time and troube at the pier. Most systems, after you register, will also allow you to print your boarding pass right from your home printer as you complete it.
2. Gratuities, in addition to your booking cost there will be recommended gratuities. With most lines it is $10. per day per person. When you register online it will ask you to register a credit card, this will become your onboard account and the gratuities will automatically be added to this account. So, don't leave tips at the dinner table or for your Cabin Steward during the cruise unless you just feel they deserve something extra, above the amount that will be added.
3. Drinks, if you can drink coffee, tea, water (not bottled water), juice and lemonade and other things they can prepare onboard there will be no cost for drinks. The cans of soda in your cabin, sodas with dinner and all carbonated and alcaholic beverages will be add'l cost along with bottled water. Most lines offer fountain cards to allow for unlimited fountain drinks. These are add'l cost and vary by cruiseline. If you or your kids will be drinking 4 or more per day you may want to look into these. Otherwise it's probably not worht the cost of the program.
4. Travel Insurance, look into it. It can save you major expenses for cancellations inside penalty period if someone becomes ill. It can also save you medical costs for illness or injury during your vacation. Will repay you for lost luggage and many other benefits.
6. Formal nights, unless your cruise is booked with Norwegian Cruise Lines. You'll definately want to bring along some dress up clothes for the formal nights. With a group that size there will be opportunities for photos onboard as keepsakes to remember your trip. There are professional photographers onboard and they'll take and offer photos, you want to be prepared with the right wardrobe for what you want for the photos.